Nigerians eating 10-year-old rice – Investigation 4 years ago 78

No imported rice consumed in the country is less than 10 years old post harvest, investigation has revealed.

According to local and international sources in the fields of agriculture, commodity export and food technology captured in a survey carried out by our correspondent, the bulk of rice imported into the country for consumption has spent at least 10 years in the silos of the exporting nations.

The major rice exporting countries to Nigeria are Thailand, Vietnam, India and Brazil.

It was gathered that the decision of the countries to keep their rice for at least 10 years before shipping the commodity to Nigeria and other African countries was born out of the need for self preservation in the face of a probable global food crisis that could be triggered by a number of factors, including war, famine and other natural disasters.

According to sources, the policy has dictated the volume and time of rice exports to Nigeria and other African countries for years.

The Managing Director, Notore Chemical Industries Limited, a leading indigenous integrated agricultural and fertiliser producing company, Mr. Onajite Koloko, confirmed this to our correspondent.

He said in view of the nutritional and health implications of eating rice that had been kept in foreign storage systems for not less than 10 years before importation, there was an urgent need for all stakeholders to support the development and growth of locally cultivated rice.

Koloko called for a shift in orientation from being dependants on imported rice to locally cultivated one.

He also urged the government to give the necessary backing to local farmers to achieve the target of self sufficiency in rice production.

The Notore boss said, “The development is sad that Nigerians eat 10-year-old rice on a continual basis. Most of the rice imported into the country must have been kept in storage facilities of exporting countries for not less than 10 years before releasing it into the Nigerian market and other African countries.

“It is regrettable that we are in this situation. This is a key area we should develop to save ourselves from the economic losses and possible health hazards of eating stale rice.”

The Chairman, Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, Lagos State, Mr. Segun Atho, also confirmed that most of the imported rice in the country had been stored for a minimum of 10 years.

Atho said it was sad that despite the nation’s natural potential in agriculture, most Nigerians could not eat fresh rice, which is considered much more nutritious and economical.

He said although imported rice might be cheaper than the locally produced varieties, its overall implication on the future of the country’s economy could be grave.

Atho, however, commended the recent efforts by the current administration to encourage the development of agriculture, especially rice production.

“Rice is a staple food item that is globally consumed. This underscores its economic implication for an importing nation. Continual dependence on other countries, apart from its economic implication, is bad for social and food security of any nation,” he said.

Atho said exporting nations like Thailand, Vietnam and India decided to put the export control system in place in order to secure their populations’ food needs first before exporting to other countries.

“The implication of this is that in case of social or a natural distortion to good harvest, what dependant nations like Nigeria will suffer are hunger and diseases. Nigeria needs to take up the challenge and encourage the development of local rice cultivation, especially through smallholder farmers,” he said.

Though Thailand, the world’s leading exporter of rice, does not operate a regime of outright export ban, a system of control exists in the country.

Thailand’s chief exports are rice, sugar, corn and other agricultural products. Under the country’s export control system, certain items, principally food staples such as rice and sugar, are reserved by law to ensure that domestic needs are met first before exports can be permitted.

Therefore, certain kinds of goods require an export licence, according to the Export Standard Act (N0. 2) of B.E. 2522 1979, administered by the Commodity Standards Office of the Ministry of Commerce, as sourced from its website.

Together with some other laws, the Act aims to control the quality of the goods exported as well as to ensure the financial and management capabilities of exporting companies.

“Export controls seek primarily to ensure that certain items, principally food staples, such as rice and sugar, are available in sufficient quantities to meet domestic demand before exports can be permitted. The regulations also seek to ensure that product quality and exporter management standards are maintained,” the Commodity Standards Office explained on its website. Home Page

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